What’s Happening in the Garden- January 30, 2017

Hello out there and Happy 2017.  I’m feeling quite sad and worn by recent events here in the US and sometime I need a mental escape and happier thoughts, even if just for a few minutes. One of my biggest escapes is always the garden. We’ve had a mild winter so far but the garden is still cold and quiet on the surface. Below the ground, the perennials and bulbs and trees and grasses are alive and well and just waiting for spring to arrive.

I’ve added lots and lots of houseplants in the past few years and my time at ICS Plant Specialists taught me how to take good care of them. I’ve been enjoying my indoor garden this winter.

img_2700-003My mom’s Christmas Cactus, which sat in her dining room window for my whole life, is a little bit behind schedule but it’s finally blooming. She would be proud to see it here.

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img_2701-003I still have wax begonias from last summer blooming in the office. They’ll be ready to go out to the deck in a few months.

img_2720-003Our bookshelf in the living room holds an angel begonia (also mom’s). It seems fresher and stronger than it used to… right plant, right place… maybe it will bloom?

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This little vignette kind of cracked me up (no pun intended) when I saw it so I had to share. Do you happen to have a bamboo plant, fresh eggs and a Droll Designs Bugs Bunny teapot sitting together on your kitchen counter?

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My very sweet sister-in-law gave me this Thanksgiving Cactus during the holidays and I just moved it into a more permanent pot last week. My Dad took the photo somewhere in Asia many years ago.  He passed away when I was 21, but I always look at it and think that he would have appreciated the attachment parenting style that we chose to use with our children when they were small.

img_2712-003I have philodendron everywhere and to add to the cactuses, here’s an orchid cactus! It blooms in the summer warmth and looks like a piece of sculpture in the winter.

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My money tree (Pachira aquatica) also came from Mom. When I brought it north last fall the leaves fell so much that I was sure I was going to loose it. I did some research and found that this plant likes to stay away from drafts and hates being overwatered. Those were easy things to fix and as soon as I moved it away from the front door and adjusted my watering routine it started to produce new leaves and they’ve been filling in ever since.

img_2725-003 I found this cute little polka dot plant on sale for $2.50 last week. It brightens things up!

img_2718-003My succulents thrive outside in the summer but they’re holding up well in their indoor winter home.

img_2737-003Maddie is standing guard over them. Fortunately, our current cats never touch the plants.

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This is the first time that I’ve raised African Violet to a full bloom stage. They’re in a bathroom with very filtered light and it seems that between the humidity from the shower and the gentle light that they’re receiving, they are happy. I need to add a few more plants to this windowsill.

img_2736-003Here’s another first… a hellebore bloom out in the herb garden!  Something is munching on this plant (I believe that it’s bunnies or deer) but that one bloom is enough to keep me in the game!

I’m hooked on African Violet and hellebore!

img_2728-003You may remember that I’m also hooked on seed starting and it’s just about time to start the onion seeds. I picked these up last weekend and they’re sitting above my kitchen sink calling to me to plant them. I’m receiving seed catalogs and thinking about the spring plan. See, the garden is an escape all year long!

In other news, I’m still working on getting a  handle on this full time work schedule, but it’s getting better as we adjust and develop good, new routines. I think there may be some fun garden projects at my workplace as the year goes on. If that happens, I’ll be sure to share them here.

I hope that this little trip through my indoor winter garden gave you a break and made you smile.  Check in and let me know how you and your garden are doing! I miss you and wish you peace and love, wherever you are.

Love,  Michele

Our Snowy Grand Canyon Day

It looks like we have a theme here. When we started to plan our trip to Arizona we thought that the entire state would be much warmer than New England, however as we learned in Sedona, it’s snowy in northern Arizona in the winter. The altitude at the south rim of the Grand Canyon is 6500 feet above sea level, higher than Mount Washington which at 6288 is the highest peak in the Northeastern US. Who knew? We do now!

To make our way to the Grand Canyon from Sedona, we drove through a winter wonderland of snow.

IMG_0226Oak Creek Canyon

After leaving our hotel we turned toward Sedona by mistake on our way out to the highway. We were thoroughly enjoying the scenery and didn’t realize our mistake until we reached the town of Sedona. The drive back to route 17 toward Flagstaff was about 15 miles, so, rather than backtracking we took the scenic route through Oak Creek Canyon and we were so glad that we did. It was breathtaking, and while we didn’t use it, we had four wheel drive if we needed it.

Anyway, two and a half hours after leaving Sedona we made it to Grand Canyon!

IMG_0230… looking over the south rim of the Grand Canyon!

This moment had been on my bucket list for years. I have very fond memories of seeing it with my family as a child and I’d always wanted for Michael and our kids to experience it, so I was kind of overwhelmed. I barely looked at the view myself because I was having a great time watching their reactions.

IMG_0238Good thing I took lots of pictures! The views are amazing from every possible vantage point. In case you missed it, I posted photos of nothing but views of the Grand Canyon on Wordless Wednesday last week. You can see them here.

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Just above is the exterior of the main visitor center at Grand Canyon Village in the south rim. I didn’t take photos inside but it was beautiful with engaging exhibits about many different aspects of the history, wildlife and geology of the canyon.

The south rim and north rim of the canyon are very different. While it’s less than twenty miles straight across, the trip to the north rim from the south rim is over 200 miles each way. The north rim is closed in the winter and sounds much less developed then the main viewing area of the south rim, which has a village that includes ten hotels, several visitor centers and museums, restaurants and a post office.

DSC04998After seeing the canyon and looking around the visitor center, we had lunch at the El Tovar Hotel. This is one of a few remaining Fred Harvey Hotels and it’s an interesting stop. It was built to be one of the most elegant hotels in the west in the early 1900s. Fred Harvey was a British immigrant who built many restaurants and several grand hotels on the rail lines and on Route 66. El Tovar was designed by well known architect Mary Colter who also designed grand hotels in Winslow, AZ and several other cities across the southwest. We’ll run into Fred and Mary again soon in Winslow. We grew quite fond of them and appreciated their very cozy and elegant design style!

 

One of the wonderful aspects of traveling in the winter is the lack of crowds. While the lodge and dining room were pleasantly busy, we were seated right away. IMG_0250The El Tovar dining room was lovely. At $400/night per room, we weren’t staying there, but lunch was as reasonably priced as many of the other stops on our trip. The food was good, not spectacular, but very good, and the service was great. After a few days on the road white linen tablecloths and napkins were a treat.

IMG_0254These beautiful stained glass chandeliers were too.

IMG_0261I would have loved to have gone up to see the mezzanine… the view of the canyon must be awesome up there!

IMG_0263The front porch looks like an inviting place to sit on a warmer day.

The hotel had the look, feel and smell (in a good way) of a huge log cabin. It should probably be a post of it’s own.

This is a garden blog, not a hotel blog, but hmm….

Anyway…

IMG_0287This photo (complete with window reflection) was taken inside the Yavapai Geology Museum. This was our “homeschooling for ten days” moment of the day.. I should probably call it the “un-schooling” moment because I worked very hard to let the kids experience it on their own terms without intervening too much, so that they would really get it, and they did.  The geological miracle of the canyon is crystal clear after spending a half hour there. I should have taken more photos but I was busy looking around and learning.

We also visited the Hopi Lodge, which is a recreated Hopi house thats used as a gift shop. The visitor center right behind Hopi Lodge had an interesting exhibit about life as a resident of Grand Canyon Village. Apparently a few thousand people live there in a housing complex that’s tucked away out of view. There’s even a school and a health clinic. I think that it would be an interesting place to live as a park service family.

DSC04961Here’s our official Grand Canyon family portrait.

Before I close I’ll summarize a little bit about the logistics of our visit to the Grand Canyon.

  1. The literature says “stay in the park”… my mom intuition said “stay where it’s less expensive and there’s an indoor pool.” So, we did that… the Grand Canyon Holiday Inn Express worked well for us. It was clean, cozy and included a very extensive continental breakfast. Other family restaurants were within walking distance.
  2. Don’t be afraid of winter, just dress for it, then embrace the experience!
  3. We had one beautiful afternoon to spend there, which was pushing it a bit, but it was enough time. We weren’t hiking into the canyon and some of the roads were closed due to snow so we enjoyed our experience immensely and then felt ready to move on. I think that the time frame needed to see everything varies with each visitor and their interests and abilities.
  4. At any time of the year be sure to monitor the weather conditions before you go. We stayed in Sedona for an extra night because the roads were still snowy and the canyon was full of clouds. The NPS website (click here) has an accurate forecast, park alerts and a webcam that you can check to make sure your visit will be the best it can be
  5. Even if you’re not concerned about the weather, the NPS website is a great starting point for planning your visit to the Grand Canyon.
  6. Enjoy every minute!

Coming Soon: Winslow Arizona and starting onion seeds!

Stay warm!

Michele

 

Blizzard in the Garden

It’s Wordless Wednesday but I couldn’t really do a post without words today. We just had a blizzard after all…

The official snow total for Salem is 24 inches, but honestly, I think our number is a little above that. It snowed well into the night last night, long after I read that on the internet.

IMG_7958 The garden fence is buried. Michael usually shovels through the arbor but decided to take a little break from that this time. That made me feel better about all of the shoveling that he does.IMG_7945The coop can be reached again!IMG_7946But there’s not much room to play.IMG_7949 Which is just fine with the girls who are refusing to go outside. I’m with them!IMG_7944Michael feeds the wild birds..IMG_7942The cold snowy bunny hutch doesn’t have a path yet…IMG_7955but that’s okay because Paula Tucker is happily tucked away in the chicken coop.IMG_7939 The pond is white now, and the big rock is submerged in snow. See the track across the bottom? A deer or coyote must have gone through.IMG_7935As buried as we are, all is well. Everyone stayed warm and dry.

The next storm is on Friday but nobody’s talking about that yet.

Stay warm my friends!

Love,  Michele

 

Christmas Herbs

It’s been so warm here in Salem that we have lots of fresh herbs for Christmas this year.

I consider them to be my own personal Christmas gift~IMG_7737There’s little bits of dill popping up out front… not quite enough to cook with but there may be just enough for a bowl of carrots in a day or two.
IMG_7735 I brushed my hand over lemon balm and was transported right back to July….

…in my mind, but it was very pleasant.IMG_7733a few more days like this and we could have blooming lavender again.IMG_7732 There’s fresh growth on the sage…IMG_7729 …along with the oregano.IMG_7727My rosemary plant that never quite made it inside this fall is full of beautiful fragrant foliage..IMG_7722…same with the thyme.
IMG_7719And I’m putting fresh parsley in everything..potatoes, chicken soup, you name it!

Merry Christmas to me!

Love, love, love,

Michele

Zebra Finches, Guitars and a Chinese House–Just a Typical Afternoon in Salem

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It’s hard to believe that this afternoon we threw on our shoes, drove five minutes and walked into this amazing building in downtown Salem.

Then paid nothing (because Salem residents are admitted for free), and waited in line for twenty minutes to view from here to ear, an exhibit featuring zebra finches playing electric guitars and cymbals…

No photos were allowed, but check out the video in the right margin here on the PEM website and you’ll get the idea. It was quite an experience.

While we waited to see the birds we looked out and enjoyed this view of Yin Yu Tang, a two hundred year old merchant’s house that was brought here piece by piece from China in 2003 and reassembled by the museum…

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No photos are allowed of the inside of Yin Yu Tang either, but it’s full of original artifacts from the house as it was while it was used by the family that owned it. It was easy to imagine what it might have been like to live there.

After all of that amazing cultural opportunity, we ran right into this guy

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Who elicited this reaction from my littlest girl…

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There was even a quick view of a frozen garden through a window…

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Maybe we don’t need spring in Salem after all?  We’re doing just fine.

Enjoy everything!

Michele